Last week I arrived in Michigan beginning my move to Detroit. Part of me is a little sad for leaving the sunny and much warmer Dallas area winter for a freezing one, but on the upside I will be starting my new exciting job this week. And I got to drop by the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) over the weekend. Walking through the surprisingly sunny, but normally chilly Detroit downtown this last Saturday I was welcomed by a multitude of languages; Russian, English, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, German, and many others. I am not sure if that is due to how big of a melting pot Detroit is (I just moved here), or if these people are just visiting the city for the main event; NAIAS.
As soon an you walk into the auto show in the Cobo center the first thing that strikes you is the technology use, and not just in the cars but in the show itself; you have kiosks for buying new tickets or picking up the new ones, you can also download the NAIAS app to help you navigate your way. Another cool thing is the use the of touch screens next to some of the products on display so that you can get information about the car’s performance, cost, and fuel efficiency. The one I liked the most is that by Mercedes Benz.
There are three main buzz words that I have noticed this year at the auto show; 1) Mobility, 2) Electric Vehicle (EV), 3) Smart. It is very clear that many auto manufacturers in the United States are trying to break into the technology sector with mobile connectivity, ride-sharing, smart systems, and alternative energy. GM for example has invested heavily in Lyft to work on a ride-sharing platform that they can provide. They also have incorporated WiFi hotspots in some of their trucks. Also Ford seems to be re-branding itself as a mobility solution company as well as a car manufacturer. They recently introduced FordPass which is a platform to make your life easier while on the move. It can help you find parking, you can also talk to actual human guides for help, it also has a rewards program in collaboration with McDonald’s and 7-eleven. And along of Ford’s mobility plan they have created sensors that you can attach bicycles to gather data in your cycling commute.
It seems that the automotive industry is undergoing exciting changes, and I think with the introduction of autonomous cars we are going to see a lot of cool things happening in the industry. Obviously no auto show would be complete without some concept cars, so i will leave you with the two that I found interesting the Lexus LF-FC fuel cell car and the BMW i8 plugin hybrid.